Friday, November 28, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

There Are No Turkeys in Korea

Well it's Thanksgiving here and I definitely won't be having turkey - not exactly something you can find on the menu here. There are Thanksgiving parties being held for ex-pats at a couple of the hotels, but not until the weekend. I assume official dinners will be given at the U.S. military bases today, but I won't be invited.

So just a regular Thursday for me. Off to go sell something...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The New Phrase For Sales in 2009

Learn It: "Flat is the New Up"

Example 1:

Boss: WM, your numbers are looking pretty flat

WM: Hans. Bubeeee. Haven’t you heard? In this economy "Flat is the New Up!"

Boss: WM, you’re right. Here is your full bonus check.

Example 2:

Customer: WM-san, I do not know if we can afford your new technology as things are looking flat.

WM: Yamamoto-san. Bubeee. Haven’t you heard? In this economy "Flat is the New Up!"

(customer does sharp intake of breath through sides of mouth)

: WM-san, your wisdom is very great. We must still invest. Here is our purchase order.

The bad news is that Down is still Down, and you’re not going to talk your out of that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SSDs Are Here to Stay

I have been using an IBM X41 ultra-portable notebook PC for about two years and I figured out it was really a POS. Although it was small and relatively light, it took forever to boot and it was slow - even waking from sleep-mode took forever. The final straw was that the battery stopped holding a charge, giving me maybe two hours when mobile - not exactly a feature you want when on an airplane.

After complaining to my IS manager, he allowed me to be the guinea pig for the new ultra-portable my company is considering making standard-issue: the Dell E4200. This is the first computer I've tried with a solid state drive (SSD), and I got to tell you, it is very, very impressive. It is in the same class as the X41 - so it is small - but it is such a better machine. I've had it for two weeks and this is the feedback I gave to my IS guy:


  • Weight – Incredible. The computer itself weighs nothing. The only thing that gives it any heft at all is the battery. Probably the most impressive feature
  • Speed – Awesome. The speed of Outlook is practically instantaneous. Opening large files and folders is also way faster
  • Screen – It seems brighter, or clearer somehow. Also it is a 16:9 ratio, which makes it seem a little bigger, with more room to put things
  • Wake Time – The X41 took forever to wake up from sleep. This is practically instant-on
  • Boot Time – While not lightning fast, it is good, and WAY better than the IBM, which seemed like a 5 minute wait
  • Quiet – The only moving part is the fan, and it doesn’t come on very often. SSDs are definitely here to stay for high-end notebooks.
  • No Vista! (Windows XP - I think is more a thank-you to my IS guy than to Dell)
Cons (and none of them huge)
  • No PCMCIA slot – Not a big deal, but I will have to get a USB version of my 3G internet card for when I travel and can't find WIFI
  • On-Off WIFI Switch - Not really a con, but a RTM sort of item. I accidently turned it off, not knowing it was there, and it took me a few minutes to figure out what happened
  • Speakers Suck - Not a huge deal, and you can’t expect much out of a notebook
  • Touchpad - One thing I did like about the IBMs was the "eraser head" pointer. For the touch pad, users just need to configure it to their liking, like turning off the “zoom” feature or making it less sensitive. More a customization item that users need to be aware of and not a “con”
Overall this is a marvelous travel machine. I think road warriors will love it, and I plan to hold on to my "test" unit.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Existential Thought for the Week

Is life a journey to nothing or a journey to forever?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Recession Proof Products: Spam and Cellphones

And I mean canned Spam, not the email kind (H/T Instapundit): Hormel Turns Out More Spam

And, thankfully, the industry I am in is largely - but not totally - recession proof:

Consumers won't give up their cell phones. They may lose their jobs and even their homes, but consumers seem unwilling to disconnect their cell phones.

"I would sleep in my car before I would give up my mobile phone," says Yankee Group Analyst Carl Howe. "Consumers buy services like broadband and mobile phones, and even if they lose their jobs they need these services more than ever."

The cellphone companies are suffering, but more because consumers are trading down. While volume is down, it is not significant (and with past cellphone growth any slowdown seems huge). In the mean time cellphone providers are bleeding off inventory. The combination of trade-down and inventory bleed is currently hurting the supply chain pretty badly. But after the bleed-off, the demand for the basic cellphone building blocks will level off and I think there will be stability within the segment by the back half of 2009.

As for the guys making TV receivers and other gadgets for high-end handsets, well, those guys will be hurting for the duration.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Have No Idea What To Do With My (C)remains

When people lived in one area, and had so for a few generations, there wasn't much thought on what to do with yourself after you died. You were simply buried next to grandpa, grandma and other relatives in the family plot, hopefully having a spot next to you for your spouse. These days there are several trends are blowing this assumption out of the water.

The first is that fewer people in the U.S. are choosing to be buried, preferring instead cremation. Estimates by the National Funeral Directors Association have cremation growing from about 30% to over 50% by 2020 (and it's what I plan)

Second, the concept of the modern family sort of mixes things up. Step-grandparents, half sisters, "significant others" instead of spouses, and the other associated 21st century relationships make the "family all buried in one place" concept sort of quaint.

Last, there is the whole mass migration thing. It used to be you lived your entire life within a 50 mile radius, but these days you're born one place, grow up in another, work in another, then retire somewhere else, maybe even a different country. So most people no longer have a place that they feel they just have to be planted when they're gone.

So while I know I want to be cremated, I don't have any particular place where I want my ashes to be scattered. I mean, it's not like I will be around to care anyway.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Want In On This Deal

So to qualify for the free money giveaway, a homeowner needs to:

To qualify, borrowers would have to be at least three months behind on their home loans, and would need to have home loans worth at least 90 percent their house's value. The interest rate or principal amount of the loan would be reduced so that borrowers would not pay more than 38 percent of their income on housing expenses,

Awesome! So I can quit my job, get a part time one that pays a lot less, not pay my mortgage for three months, and my mortgage will magically get reduced! What a deal!

Why in the hell should anyone keep paying their mortgage in this type of environment?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Tony Was Somtimes Insightful

It's good to be in something from the ground floor. I came too late for that...but lately I've been getting the feeling that I came in at the end. The best is over.

- Tony Soprano

I've been thinking the same thing about my country. We're now a nation of losers looking for handouts. Look at the auto industry. To prop them up the government is going to have to take capital away from industries that make money and give it to an industry that loses money.

And this is what our new "president" wants to do with individuals. Not create opportunities. Not put together a structure for people to create businesses and expand. But take money away from people who are productive and give it to losers. How long can a country survive on this wonderful economic plan? How long can the losers sponge off the productive and how long until the productive just throw in the towel?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My Faith in the Stupidity of the American People is Restored

You know, growing up I thought America was a special place. Now I know it isn't. It can fall for rhetoric, empty promises, and the promises of something for nothing. It's sort of sad, really.

Like I said before, the American people get what they deserve.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

An Addition to "Nonrandom Thoughts"

Dale Franks at Q&O has a thought provoking article. I think he almost hits the nail on the head when he says:

America is fundamentally unwell. By "America" I'm not referring to it's culture, or economy, but its political situation.

I, however, would say that the culture of the U.S. is fundamentally unwell and it has become crystal clear this past year.

We have a man with no experience, questionable character, poor choice of friends, naive views of foreign policy, and historically discredited economic beliefs possibly becoming the next president of the U.S.

Those who worked hard, avoided debt and saved are getting screwed at both ends, as the government rushes around trying to prop up deadbeats who had no business buying a house. And the political party that created the mess and kept it going - despite plenty of warning signs - is about to win both houses of Congress.

Those who studied hard and applied themselves in their chosen profession and had the gumption to become "successful" are now being called selfish, the fruits of their labor to be confiscated to support an ever larger portion of the population who pay no taxes. Those who make over a certain salary range are not considered "working class".

The borders are open and porous, with millions of uneducated, untrained workers rushing into the country. They flood the hospitals and schools, consuming billions dollars of services without providing taxes in return. They don't even try to assimilate into the culture that provides for them.

The average American is now looking for a handout - they want everything from health care to retirement for free - and looking for someone else to foot the bill. In return they don't have to work, save or invest. Because the government is going to bail them out of all of their problems.

These are all signs of a declining culture.